Category Archives: Novels

Meet the characters in JOLT: Lalita Torres

Manitou clock

“Excuse me, did you say the ‘time’ you come from?”

She nodded.

“The time. Not the place.”

“Well, the place is different, too, since I’m not from around here.”

“Where are you from?”

“Missouri. Close to Kansas City.”

He leaned in again. “When are you from?”

She spread her hands dramatically. “The early 21st century.”

Tate just stared.

Lalita nodded. “That’s right, man from the 19th century,” –she gave an exaggerated wink– “you’re looking at a 21st century woman.”

Suddenly she pushed back from the table, rose, and struck a pose with one hand in the air and one on her hip. Then she started to sing. “I can bring home the bacon”— she moved her hips a quick left and right– “fry it up in a pan”–she slinked toward him, spinning the cord tie at her waist—” and never ever let you forget you’re a man,” –she sat right on his lap, throwing her arms around his neck– “ ’cause I’m a woman.”

Tate was speechless, but Nellie clapped, and Lalita was biting her lip, trying to keep from laughing. She put a hand to the side of her mouth as she whispered, “I don’t know how much competition there is for airtime, but that should keep us off the editing room floor.”

Tate’s heart sank. This beautiful, young woman was absolutely off her chump.

My Top Ten Reads For 2015

I read just shy of thirty books this year, although I laid down and didn’t finish at least that many again. Since I set a goal in January to read fewer badly written books, I’m very proud of myself for laying these down and moving on. And still I only found ten books out of the list that I gave 5 stars to. Am I picky? Yep. I consider characters, dialogue, plot, over-all writing quality, and un-put-downability with every review I write. These were the cream of this year’s crop:

Okay, I admit to getting a bit stuck on Tamara Leigh this year, but this woman is a seriously great historical romance writer. She took five of the ten spots with her Age of Faith series.

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For YA fantasy/sci-fi, you can’t beat Lia London’s Gypsy Pearl series. I read the first two at the end of last year and couldn’t wait for the exciting conclusion. Great characters and a well-written, imaginative storyline put this solidly in my top ten.

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Kathy Clark was a newly discovered author for me, and this book has just the right amount of work-related details, suspense, and romance.

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I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to discover this series by Lois McMaster Bujold since I’m a huge fan of her Vorkosigan series, but I’m certainly glad I tumbled upon it. Rich details of her medieval world and a very complicated and intriguing theology set the backdrop for a character-driven story that will keep you reading.

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And now for a classic. For wit dished up with a dose of historical culture, you just can’t beat Mark Twain.

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The last on my list isn’t fiction, but it was as intriguing and suspenseful as any story I’ve read this year. For any who have wondered if miraculous healings happen today, Robby Dawkins says, “Yes,”

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So that’s my list for 2015. What books did you read this year that you loved?

Books for FREE and CHEAP

Now is the time to jump on board the

The Rocky Mountain Series!

Sept 1-5 FREE

Cover of Rocky Mountain Angels

Rocky Mountain Angels

When Mari Baker moves in next door, Benjamin Rhodes knows she’s the girl for him. Who cares if she’s ten years older than he is. She’s perfect.

When Mari Baker moves in next door, Eli Rhodes is captivated by her fiery spirit and brunette curls. Sure, she’s nothing like the singles bar hook-ups he usually entertains, but someone like her could make a man change his ways.

When Mari Baker moves in next door, Joe Rhodes is unofficially engaged to Beth Havland, so why is this little snippet of a woman getting under his skin? Yeah, she’s sweet and smart and shares his faith, but he and Beth have made plans. At least they’ve talked about making plans.

When Mari Baker moves to Colorado Springs, she’s looking for a fresh start–a new path. The first path she walks, however, is up the steps of the big Victorian house next door after she slips on the ice and throws her purse down the storm drain before she even has a chance to open the door of her new rental. The Rhodes brothers become her rescuing angels that night, and the next path that forms is the one between their house and hers.

Sept. 1-8  .99

front coverJoe Rhodes had it alla sweet, beautiful fiancée, a successful construction business, and a three story home that he and his brothers had restored to its full Victorian splendor. Then the housing market collapsed, sending his business to the brink of bankruptcy, and he had to sell the house to save the business. At least he still has Mari.

Mari Baker is just a month away from marrying the man she calls her “dazzling Joe” when she repeatedly notices a tall, mysterious stranger watching her. Could he be a stalker? Suddenly she finds herself alone with the man, and nothing will ever be the same again.

Joe isn’t sure what to believe about the guy in the trench coat. Mari certainly isn’t making any sense about it all. How can she expect him to believe such a ridiculous story? Before, he would have said he trusted her implicitly, but now he isn’t sure. It’s just too far-fetched. Maybe he has lost it all.

Mari knows she sounds crazy, but Joe just has to believe her. She can’t do this alone.

Sept. 24-30  .99

RMR_Cover frontBen Rhodes was depressed. His ex-girlfriend had betrayed him, then skipped the country.

Rhonda Holloway spent a year trying to help him–a year falling in love with him.

Ben didn’t notice.

With the help of an anti-depressant, he wakes up to the possibilities, and as he reassesses everything she’s done for him, love blooms in his heart. But Rhonda is gone on a European book tour.

And comes home engaged.

Fear wins the day as love is denied. Truth is pushed aside for the sake of integrity. Hope goes in and out with the tides of time and the words of one small boy.

One very special boy.

Meet the Characters in Rocky Mountain Redemption.

RMR_Cover front

Ben:

Ben was reluctant to move his arm away from her shoulder, but he straightened and immediately felt the loss. “So, you never answered my question. How’s Paris?”

She hesitated, and Ben tried to make eye contact, but she was looking down at James. “Paris is Paris. It’s beautiful and frustrating and delicious and… and nerve wracking. It’s the most exciting and terrifying place I’ve ever lived.”

Ben gave a little snort. “Good fodder for book writing, I guess, but wild horses couldn’t drag me there.”

Rhonda looked at him out of the corner of her eye, smiling. “Well, I don’t suppose they would, Rhodes, unless they were really good swimmers.”

He bumped his shoulder into hers. “You know what I mean.”

She bumped back. “Yeah, I know. You’re very happy in your little apartment in your little town, working in your little zoo.”

Hey, wait a minute! I’m only in a little apartment, because that’s what I can afford, and while Colorado Springs doesn’t compare to Paris size-wise, it’s not exactly a village. And who wants a zoo it takes you all day to see? I think it’s the perfect size.” He dropped his voice and crooned to the baby. “Someone’s become a high and mighty, Parisian, Marcus.”

Rhonda:

So you like it there.”

Rhonda realized that she was chewing on a nail and forced her hand to her lap. “For the most part. It’s… it’s really different. I’ve made a lot of faux pas, but I’m learning.” She nervously ran her fingers through her hair, trying to think of a safe topic. “I don’t quite have the hang of the whole cheek kissing greeting yet, and sometimes I forget to say, ‘bonjour.’” She said it with a a very proper accent and a lilt in her voice. “You know, sometimes my mood just isn’t that perky. Sometimes I just say, ‘bonjour.’” She delivered the word rather flatly. “But that’s not acceptable, you know. Store owners have been known to close up their shops and weep for a ‘bonjour’ delivered without the proper feeling.”

Louis:

She lowered herself to the cool tile floor. Lying on her back, she pointed her chin toward the ceiling, pinching the bridge of her nose. There wasn’t enough room for her to stretch out completely, so she ran her feet up the open door, the bright red shoes mocking her.

“Well, ma chatte, I thought we would have a romp after we went out,” —Louis appeared in the doorway, looking at her legs— “but I see that you can’t wait for—” He cut himself off as his gaze tracked her body to her face. “Mon dieu, Rhonda, what happened now? You are so maladroit!”

Rhonda still had a long ways to go to be fluent in French, but that was a word she knew. Clumsy. “Louis,” she mumbled behind her wad of tissues, her eyes closed, “it’s the shoes you buy me. I just can’t walk in them.”

She heard him sigh. “I believe that’s what I just said, mon cher.”

Tyler:

Tyler laid the fish in the skillet one by one. “And why do you suppose that is?”

Ben crouched down, feeling a lurch in his stomach. “You’re right, I was afraid. My last relationship took me a long time to get over. I was… hurt.”

Tyler rose and picked up the kettle of fish innards, shaking his head. “Not more than you are now, I bet.”

Ben watched him walk the trail to the river as the fish sizzled in the skillet. Ben yelled after him. “You said you changed careers. What did you do before?”

Tyler turned back, smiling. “Counseling,” he yelled. “I helped poor saps like you.” He returned his attention to the trail. “I’ll send you my bill.”

Weston:

After a moment, Weston spoke again. “You’re not going to tell me, are you?”

Rhonda shifted uncomfortably, moving her shoulder bag from her arm to her lap. “Why do you want to know? It’s not a particularly interesting story.”

He lifted his eyebrows. “Now that I do not believe. You have been nothing but interesting from the moment you nearly crashed on the ice this morning.” When she didn’t respond, he waved a hand in acceptance. “I am sorry. I do not mean to pry. I mean, who am I? We just met, and even though I saved your ass today —both on the ice and on the beach— I would not want it to be said that Weston Murdock was a snoop.”

Bonnie:

When she was finished, she packed up her case and followed Ben to the gate. “So now’s the part where I go back home and wait for you to call the male veterinarian you interviewed yesterday, because a woman couldn’t possibly do this job.”

Ben spun with eyebrows raised. “Miss Gatlin, I never said—”

You didn’t have to. It’s been in your eyes since I walked into your office.” She gestured back to the barn. “Sure, I can stitch up a little goat nose, but what about when something a bit larger needs treatment? What then?”

Ben looked into her sea green eyes and smiled. “Okay, I admit, the thought has crossed my mind that you are a bit of a light weight, and—” Before Ben knew what hit him, Bonnie had dropped her case, grabbed his hand, twisted under his arm, and flipped him over her shoulder. He lay on his back in a snow drift, trying to regain his breath.

She stepped over his waist and looked down. “If you know what you are doing and have a rapport with the animals, you never need to use your muscles.” She smiled. “But I do have a few, just in case.”

How to Review a Book

Screenshot from 2015-03-25 22:05:02There is a skill to reviewing a book. The point is not merely to like or dislike.  It is not to compare the writer’s perceived morals to your own. It’s a place for critical analysis. Since most reviews give you a chance to rate them with 1-5 stars, may I suggest 5 points to consider when rating.

Writing Quality. Is the description clear? Do the sentences flow? Are certain words or phrases overused? Does the writing pull you into the story or kick you out with weird words and stilted phrasing?

Dialogue. This is a specific type of writing quality. Does it sound natural? Does it fit each particular character? Is the inner dialogue tedious or goofy?

Characters. Are they interesting? Are at least some of them likeable?  Do they grow and change in some way over the course of the book? Are the bad guys realistic or merely caricatures? Are they consistent? Your job isn’t to judge their morality unless it’s inconsistent with what the writer has established. We expect the villains to behave badly. We hold our heroes to a higher standard. They can fail and fall and be tempted, but in the end, we expect some kind of honor.

Storyline. Is the story entertaining? Does it have a good flow? Do the plot points make sense? Does it drag at any point?

Un-put-down-ability. Does it keep your interest? Is it hard to put down? Did you stay up late reading it? Does it call you back to it, if you do have to put it down.

Sometimes, you might feel the writer deserves not a single star for writing quality, but other books might warrant, say, half a star. Go through each of the 5 points, assigning whole or parts of a star for each, then add them up. If you end up with 3 1/2 stars, then you must decide whether to round up or down based on your overall feeling about the book.

Remember, not every book is written for you. Just because it’s “not your kind of book,” does not mean it deserves 1 star. If it truly isn’t your kind of book, don’t read it, and let those rate and review it who are more in tune with this genre.

I don’t read BDSM books just so I can get grossed out in the first chapter and self-righteously give it 1 star. I’m not the audience for that book. I won’t read it, rate it, or review it.

Not every Christian book is written for the Baptist minister’s wife who has never been in a bar in her life. Sometimes Christian fiction is written for the teen on the edge. The one who wouldn’t read Amish fiction if it were the last reading option on earth. The one that has free ideas about sex even while she sits in the pew on Sundays. The one who needs to know that, yes, both men and women can be tempted in the area of sex. And that, yes, it can be a real struggle. And, yes, it’s a temptation that can be overcome.

If you find yourself judging the book’s storyline and language too harshly, you are probably not that book’s audience. Lay it down and walk away. Resist the urge to inflict your brand of judgement on it. Some messages are not for you.